Forums Seek Public Comment on Revised Westerly School Construction Plan | West

WEST – Residents and other community members interested in learning more about the development of a proposed school building project or providing feedback will have two opportunities this week when the School Board Construction Sub-Committee hosts two public forums – one virtually on Thursday and one in person on Saturday.

Representatives from JCJ Architecture, the firm working with the building committee on the project, will present the results of the assessments they have conducted at each school building and will also discuss current building uses and Ministry of Education standards. State education for school buildings and classrooms. space.

The meetings, which are intended to be identical, will also include a discussion of the work of the project’s education planner, who met with district administrators and teachers to understand current teaching approaches and how buildings can be improved to meet the current and future needs. educational needs and teaching styles.

JCJ Architecture staff will also be “testing” various potential quality configurations or reconfigurations, said Peter Bachman, a market sector leader with the firm, at a recent building subcommittee meeting. The sub-committee recommended two potential construction proposals as meriting further consideration. Both proposals would involve moving eighth-grade students from Westerly Middle School to Babcock Hall.

Ultimately, Bachman said, local authorities will have to decide “what are the minimum educational upgrades you’re willing to live with and what are the maximum upgrades.”

The recommended projects were greeted with skepticism and criticism at forums held in October and since then at meetings of the Building Sub-Committee and School Committee.

“We’ve heard a lot of concerns from some people who have spoken in front of the building committee and also in front of the school committee and we want to make sure we address those things,” said Justin Hopkins, president of the sub. -building committee, during an interview on Monday.

JCJ will use the feedback it receives during the forums and its discussions with the Building Sub-Committee to develop options for potential building projects soon.

“The building sub-committee has made recommendations to use Babcock, but there are other designs that could be discussed in this upcoming forum. From these meetings, the architect will come back and put in place build options to consider. One will be using Babcock,” Hopkins said.

The building committee had hoped to hold the forums planned for this week earlier, but Hopkins said a decision was made to wait until an architect was hired.

“I didn’t expect it to take this long, but it was important to involve the professionals. They will make informed recommendations. I’m interested to see what they have to say,” Hopkins said.

Members of the subcommittee hope to have a new project proposal ready in time to be included in the November ballot as a referendum question. The city council imposed a $50 million borrowing limit on the project which has its roots in Vision 2020, a long-term educational facilities plan released by the City and Schools Department in 2001.

The plan prompted the construction of Westerly Middle School and the renovation of Westerly High School. Elementary schools have not yet been addressed. Voters rejected proposed projects that focused primarily on elementary schools in 2016 and 2019.

The virtual session is scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m. and can be reached by visiting Participation will also be possible by calling 888-475 4499 or 877-853-5257. The meeting ID number is 864 2294 0254. The in-person meeting is scheduled for Saturday at 9 a.m. in the Babcock Hall Auditorium at 23 Highland Ave.

Harry L. Blanchard